‘Wolfgang’ review: Wolfgang Puck, and how he created the celebrity chef, in this Disney+ documentary

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“Wolfgang was unquestionably the primary celeb chef,” says chef/creator Nancy Silverton, as director David Gelb proceeds to element the Austrian-born Puck’s humble beginnings, the kid of a single mom later raised by an abusive stepfather, who instructed him that boys hanging across the kitchen was in some way unmanly.

Coming to America, Puck labored his approach up, ultimately taking up the kitchen at Ma Maison earlier than hanging out on his personal to open Spago, the place the “California delicacies” “modified the way in which Individuals eat,” says meals author Ruth Reichl, noting that Puck “modified the notion within the public for what a chef is,” as illustrated via clips of his ubiquitous media appearances.

Till then, the consultants word, being a chef had been largely a blue-collar job, with the homeowners of high-end eating places sometimes basking within the highlight. “Wolfgang” underscores simply how a lot that has modified with a montage of cooking reveals and cooks which have develop into fodder for actuality TV and prevalent sufficient to assist a community devoted to their exploits.

Puck explains that he was motivated by “worry of failure,” and in an age-old story, threw himself into his skilled pursuits on the expense of his private life. At these factors “Wolfgang” turns into a trifle sappy, right down to the musical cues, whereas documenting what’s undeniably an American success story, punctuated by older footage of celebrities flocking to his eating places.

As is so usually the case, Puck’s affect over his chosen area tends to eclipse his private qualities, and whereas these interviewed embody one-time super-agent Michael Ovitz, there’s in all probability not sufficient mentioned about Puck’s aptitude for showmanship in promoting the fabulousness that he represented. As an alternative, we get anecdotes like Johnny Carson shopping for Spago pizzas and freezing them, supposedly giving the chef the thought for his enlargement into the frozen-food enterprise.

Nonetheless, “Wolfgang” properly demonstrates how its namesake basically impacted the world of cooking — and particularly how high-end meals is perceived — whereas carving out a fairly candy life for himself within the course of. For that alone it is value watching, even when, as documentaries go, it is much less a important course than an appetizer.

“Wolfgang” premieres June 25 on Disney+.

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